tv BBC World News America PBS March 27, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT
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>> this is bbc world news america reporting from washington. the syrian government says it is ready to accept a peace plan, but with the death toll climbed to 9000 it is enough. stretching the bounds of silence. the -- of science. the impact could soon affect us all. >> they take a self and with all of its original dna stripped out, inserting the synthetic dna, making the organism do what it wants, and taking control of nature. >> and we will introduce you to an illusionist who is act has a twist.
welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and also of around the globe. after a year of conducting a broader crackdown today, the syrian government has agreed to a peace plan put forward by u.n. on freud kofi annan. this comes on the same day the u.s. increased its estimates of and the number of people killed in the country to 9000. the proof will be in the assad regime is actions. >> the syrian president apparently visiting a district in the city of homs, the center of the anti-government uprising. this for the first time since military forces besieged the area, killing hundreds and forcing rebel fighters to withdraw. but elsewhere in homs the battle appears far from over.
this video, which has not been independently verify, allegedly showed a neighborhood still being shelled by government forces. here and across many parts of syria people continue to die every day. but now i have leased the -- at least the efforts of diplomat kofi annan seem to be working. he secured support from the chinese as well as the russians for his peace plan. and it was also announced today that the syrian government itself had agreed to the initiative. the crux i received a response from -- >> i received a response from the syrian government and will be making it public today, which is positive. >> to end above it -- the bloodshed of the past year, kofi annan's plan says there must be an inclusive political process
aided by an international media, all military forces must withdraw from towns and cities, and there must be daily humanitarian efforts to reach those in need, and there must be free movement for all media. at a meeting in turkey today, syrian opposition activists were skeptical about to the government fulfilling its side of this deal. >> we, of course, are very cautious. when we see the regime accepting anything, we would like to see that implemented on the ground immediately. compliance by the regime is something we still need to see happen. >> this is the reason many are so cautious about the deal. yet another badly injured child being brought to a field hospital in homs. according to the latest u.n. figures, more than 9000 people have been killed so far, most of them civilians.
>> for more on today's move by the assad regime, joined by david miller, currently a fellow at the woodrow wilson center in washington. just looking at the six points being released from our freedom for prisoners, allowing journalists, allowing them to demonstrate. are the syrians likely to implement this? >> i think the problem is there is too much blood, too much history, and not enough political space to compromise. >> what do you mean? correct any long term solution will have to involve -- >> any long-term solution will have to involve fundamental change. against that backdrop, you still have to much blood, too much sectarian tension and to much violence pricey this as a
delay for maneuvering and i am -- and too much violence. i see this as a delay for maneuvering and i am afraid there will be too much violence going forward. >> if they have agreed to this, then that is change. >> all of this is fine, and perhaps those sorts of steps can be implemented, but the fundamental problem remains the same. you have a regime that is authoritarian in absolute control. the opposition wants a fundamental change, and they have paid in the thousands, sacrificed in the thousands for it. the notion that you're going to put how to dump the back together again and create additional space -- hottie don teague back together again and craig additional space for the spacehumpty dumpty back together again and create additional space for them to work together,
i just do not see how it is going to work. >> none of those six. talk about assad is stepping aside. >> that is true. and that is probably the reason the russians and chinese support it, because it does not call for a regime change. the arab spring or the air of a winter, whatever you want to college, has come up with three opposition -- three options. you have the people rising up against a regime. then you have an external forces as in libya. and then you finally have a diplomatic outcome orchestrated by the gcc. syria is unique. this situation is unprecedented. i do not think this framework will be doable. >> thank you very much for joining us. after two days of diplomacy
aimed at halting the spread of nuclear weapons materials today, the leaders of 60 countries wrapped up their discussions in seoul, korea. following the talks, stark warnings about the dangers of terrorism and the pledges of aid to -- pledges made to combat it. but it was hard to ignore the goings on in north >> -- north korea. >> the south korean president tried to meet some pretty serious expectations. >> we have done our best to face the perils that come. from that regard, this was an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment that we have shown in washington. we have taken a big step forward. >> the u.s. and russia, he said, were in the process of eliminating 20,000 weapons worth of nuclear material, almost 500
kilos had already been removed from eight other countries. and new initiatives were announced as well. >> as part of this effort, the u.s. is pleased to work with correa, belgian, and france, to test the long-range fuel and the reactors in france and belgium. >> but some are disappointed at the piecemeal pledged here. they have been given until next year to reduce their stocks of highly enriched uranium. and some nuclear cable prom -- nuclear capable countries were left out, including north korea. at his closing press conference, president lee said his -- he is aware of how critical the north has been of this summit, but that it was in north korea's own interest to cooperate and that it has nothing to gain from continued provocations.
>> on the sidelines of today's summit, president obama took the chance to meet with pakistan's president and conceded there have been constrained relations between the two countries. what can be done to heal the rift? we are joined by the current chair of islamic studies at american university. mr. on--- mr. ahmed, thank you for being here. >> this is an important initiative on the part of the american president because remember the context of what is happening in the region. american troop withdrawal has begun. you have afghan soldiers in uniform killing american soldiers and colleagues. the u.n. passed a resolution with three demands of the united states. an apology for the incident of a
few months ago when two dozen pakistani soldiers were killed. and a reassessment of the relationship between the united states and pakistan. the parliament having passed this have put the army and the prime minister in a quandary because if they ignore this, the mood in pakistan is very tense in terms of the relations with the united states. it is critical for the u.s. to actually break this bubble and begin to resume normal relations. >> with the mood is so tense, how do they actually start bridging that gap? >> there are many things that can be done, initiatives taken on the diplomatic level on the media level. there is symbolism for the united states president to be
saying things and doing things. the president apologized for the civilians harmed recently in afghanistan. symbolic gestures like this do go along way in diffusing a tense situation. >> pakistan has a nuclear stockpile that in 2010 was reported to be the most vulnerable to being hijacked by islamic extremism. >> there are serious problems within pakistan, the law-and- order, the tension between the capitol and the tribal areas. these are things that the u.s. can help them resolve. there is already volatile situation. it will not help either pakistan or they go out and the united states.
on the sacrifices that pakistan has made over the last year, they have always had a something like 50,000 civilian deaths as a consequence of 9/11. for the healing of the wound to happen, that -- it needs a diplomatic process for reconciliation and french. in -- a french ship. the >> thank you for joining us. in france, nicolas sarkozy has told tv networks not to broadcast the footage of the violence. the families of the recent victims of terrorism have also called for the courage not to be shown.
you might think this is something from the terminator movies, but it is a relative that could lead to industrial revolution. the process of designing and creating new forms of life by making artificial dna, that in turn, produces everything from medicine to fuels. but as you can imagine, it has some crying foul. >> imagine the power to design a new forms of life, to dream up new versions of the genes inside everything on earth and to create new organisms that have never before existed. that is what is happening at this lab in imperial college, london. scientists are not only studying life, but reshaping it. it is synthetic biology, and emerging science that could transform medicine as well as the fuels we use. >> the potential for a new industrial revolution is very clear. it is clear that these techniques can be applied across a wide range of fields from
health care to energy and agriculture. >> what is synthetic biology? the starting point is something that has been around for years, genetic modification. that is when scientists take a self magnified -- a cell magnified and they modify it by eight splicing in dna from another organism. but what they are doing now goes much further. the dna code is just four building blocks represented your body's four different letters. these components can be rearranged to design a brand new genes. scientists take those four basic building blocks -- they are just chemicals. here they are. they mix them up to create their own version of synthetic, manmade dna. the final stages extraordinary.
they take a cell with all of its original dna stripped out and insert synthetic dna, getting the organism to do everything they want, taking control of nature. >> what can this do? the fight against malaria carried by mosquitoes will see a vaccine made -- made with the synthetic biology later this year. algae could make fuel. and we could be driving with the stuff in the years ahead. and new crops could fix the drought and disease to feed a world of 7 billion. >> two years ago, and american scientists announced the first living thing with synthetic dna. but are we ready for such a fundamental step? >> these advances are exciting, but terrifying.
they are exciting because they offer the possibility of creating new life forms that will deal with many of the world's problems, but at the same time, they will deal with things that the world has never encountered. >> that some are worried about this new research, but the scientists say they are doing everything safely. >> we are working within the design phase about how we can develop kill switches. these are little mechanisms so that the organism would kill itself, or other types of mechanisms to ensure that it does not interfere with the natural world, which is what we do not want to happen. >> it was only 60 years ago that scientists discovered the building blocks of life. the public debate about this new step has only just begun.
>> amazing stuff. still to come on tonight's program, welcome to havana. the pope arrived in cuba's capital. it will tell you why the church there is coming under criticism. the south pacific nation of tonga has bid fell well -- farewell to its former king. he died earlier this month at a hospital in hong kong. he hadn't been -- ruled the island since 2006 and had been -- he had ruled the island since 2006 and had been instrumental in democratic reforms. but his coffin made its way down a street lined with greeting tongans. half of its population lives abroad, but many return to pay their last respects. in a server is part christian, part pollination, the solemn state funeral was filled with hymns, prayers', and reflections on the life of a 64-year-old man
who transformed a country into democracy. most admired the keen for his character and judgment, despite those who derided him for his life style. >> we thank god for the life of the king. >> king george was a flamboyant bachelor with a flair for extravagant military uniforms. he wore a monocle and joked about how he traveled around in a london taxi. >> a london taxi has the right proportions. it makes it easy to get in and out. >> but it was for his democratic reforms that he will be remembered, and giving up his own powers to meet the demands of his subjects who no longer want to be subjugated. now he has been laid to rest with tongans -- tom does former monarchs. he leaves the country with formidable economic problems,
but also one with enviable standards of health and education. and all are now rooted in a system where the majority's, natalee, -- not the elite, determine the future of the country. >> earlier today, pope benedict touched down in havana for a trip to cuba. while it has been so far fula pageantry and warm reception, and government officials have made it clear that political reform is not in the cards. and the church in cuba is coming under criticism of its own for not doing enough to speak out in support of human rights and other values it represents. >> for four decades, this statue of christ towered over an atheist cuba. it was never removed during the revolution, but this is a
secular country now. the catholic church is busy reasserting itself. this is a breakfast club for school children in a poor neighborhood in havana. it is one of dozens of church projects in a country controlled by the state. we are now trying to compete with the government, oscar tells me, we're just here to help. there are other signs of a church revival. i went to visit this new seminary outside of havana. it is the first church building committed in cuba since the revolution when church schools were taken over and many priests fled. now 52 young men are preparing for the priesthood here, trying to cut cuba's dependence on clergy from abroad. in 2010, president raul castro was invited to the ceremony.
there are those who wonder if the church is using its relationship with cuba as it should. >> every sunday after mass, the leaders and white march in a silent protest for human rights. it began when their husbands were imprisoned for their political views. the men were released in 2010 after cuba's cardinal intervene. but the women are still marching. last week, dozens were detained by police. cuba says they are paid by america to undermine the revolution. the women say that harassment and did so -- of dissidents is rising and they want the church to do more. >> the government told us we are not allowed to go to mass with the pope. the catholic church has a social doctrine which protects the marginalized and the suffering. now the cardinal is totally silent about all of the abuses because government is committing
against the people. -- the government is committing against the people. >> in the past they have allowed social work like this to continue. >> but the judge will not be the flag of justice. we are not here for defending human rights in the first place. we are here to bring the gospel of jesus christ. >> at the right to worship, and these, is free now. and you can be catholic in cuba, and communists. but after so many years barely tolerated, it is still cautious, not entirely secure. >> let's take a little escape from the everyday and indulge in a bit of magic.
marco tempest is far from your average meat -- magician. he uses technology to build illusions and keep people in a constant state of amazement. recently, he was out with his first-person account of his cutting edge act. >> magic is a very broad field. every magician should do what they truly love. in my particular case, it is technology. it looks like the movies outsmarted magicians. all of the coolest effects were having in movies. -- were happening in movies. i started with similar technologies like you see in movies with the special effects. my name is margo tempest. i may cyber, illusionist, which
means i combined a magic and science to create illusions. for my current work i use a lot of technology, computer division, pattern recognition, high-speed photography, a thermal energy, robotics. and i use it stories to create my own magical experience of four things like augmenting and projecting and tracking. i have a camera that enable it -- is unable to see infrared light. -- enabled to see infrared light. the infrared light gets tracked by my computer and a high-speed camera. video images stick to the camera.
magic is an incredible sandbox for future technologies. if you look at my projection technology, that is a good way to prototype the possible future where production could be intelligence. magic gives you the opportunity to see how the future might feel. >> incredible, those pictures. it is time for us to disappear now. and you can find a constant updates on our website. from all of us here at bbc world news america, thank you for watching. please tune in tomorrow.
>> make sense of international news at bbc.com/news. >> funding was made possible by -- the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu, newman's own foundation, and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to understand the industry you operate in, working to nurture new ventures and help provide capital for key strategic decisions. we offer expertise and tailored solutions in a wide range of industries. what can we do for you? >> "bbc world news" was